Tobacco policies in Austria during the Third Reich

Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2007 Sep;11(9):1033-7.


Background: The anti-smoking stance taken by Adolf Hitler, coupled with Nazi support for research on smoking and lung cancer and campaigns to discourage smoking, have encouraged pro-smoking groups to equate tobacco control activities with totalitarianism. Previous work has described the situation in Germany.

Objective: To examine the situation in Austria, also part of the Reich after 1938.

Design: Iterative analysis of documents and reports about the situation in Austria in the 1930s and 1940s, supplemented by a review of Reich legal ordinances, party newspapers, health behaviour guidelines issued by Nazi party organisations and interviews with expert informants.

Results: In contrast to the situation in Germany where, albeit to a much lesser degree than is commonly believed, some anti-smoking policies were adopted, the Nazi authorities in Austria made almost no attempt to discourage smoking and the Austrian tobacco company worked closely with the Nazi authorities to ensure that supplies were maintained.

Conclusion: Especially when looked at in the Austrian context, the much-cited link between anti-smoking policies and Nazism is a gross over-simplification. This purported link should not be used to justify the continued failure to act effectively against smoking in Germany and Austria.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Austria
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Government Regulation / history*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Male
  • National Socialism / history*
  • Smoking / history*
  • Smoking / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Smoking Prevention
  • Tobacco Industry / history
  • Tobacco Industry / legislation & jurisprudence
  • World War II